Wild Belle – Isles Review

Wild Belle Isles

Brother and sister duo Wild Belle stumble upon the crossroads of reggae and soul with Isles.

Columbia, 2013

8.5/ 10

Wild Belle are doing something very unique. In a sea of mediocre garage rock bands, it’s the ones that create a brand new sound that stand out. A dreamy whispering voice from singer Natalie Bergman combined with her multi-talented brother Elliot results in a Reggae-infused indie-pop sound. With influences from Afrobeat rhythms and jazz fusion bands, Wild Belle have crafted a smooth blend of songs on their debut Isles that incorporates synths, bouncing bass lines and beats to get those soar feet moving.

Isles opens with the psyched out “Keep You” that sounds like Sublime mixed with Blonde Redhead. The bass teeters on the offbeats with lines that make you wanna spark up as Elliot’s blaring bari sax line combines with the plucks of the bass strings. It’s indie rock that rests right on the edges of Reggae, ska and 50s mo-town pop. “Shine” is sweet with Natalie’s lyrics, “I’ve got a lover/ he puts the shine in the sun.” Elliot’s sax line again adds a new dimension.

This an album that is coming right in time for warmer days. Island jams like “Twisted” and “Love Like This” preach feelings of hot sun and warm sand. “Love Like This”; though, adds an interesting electronic texture. The brother-sister pair are most definitely coming from a skilled musical background (especially Elliot who studied music at University of Michigan). They cleverly combine different styles and instruments in a way that empowers the different genres instead of forming a jumbled a mess. And Natalie’s voice is so cautious that it slides into the mix with ease.

“Happy Home” and “Another Girl” draws on the more traditional, slow-moving indie-ballad style but Natalie’s voice commands a certain nostalgic sound that comes off fragile yet resilient. This album definitely stands out as something different from the usual outfits but it seems that the duo are still discovering their sound and capabilities. They did a good job not straying too far from recognizable but I think they have enough skill and creative spirit to stray from the normal and more into an experimental mix of Afrobeat and Reggae, always with Natalie’s razor-sharp croon to ground the listener.

Purchase: Wild Belle – Isles

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